There was an odd statement from NSA in the middle of yesterday’s WaPo story describing how NSA facilitates CIA’s drone mission (click to embiggen).
The NSA is “focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets, such as terrorists, human traffickers and drug smugglers,” the agency said Wednesday in a statement. “Our activities are directed against valid foreign intelligence targets in response to requirements from U.S. leaders in order to protect the nation and its interests from threats such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” [my emphasis]
While the NSA is finally admitting again their central cybersecurity focus, I believe this is the first time since the Snowden leak that NSA has suggested its “valid foreign intelligence targets” include “human traffickers and drug smugglers.”
It’s not surprising they are, mind you, especially given the Obama Administration’s focus on Transnational Criminal Organizations.
It’s just that the admission comes in a story about NSA’s contributions to drones for which the WaPo explained,
[T]he documents provide the most detailed account of the intricate collaboration between the CIA and the NSA in the drone campaign.
The Post is withholding many details about those missions, at the request of U.S. intelligence officials who cited potential damage to ongoing operations and national security.
It seems the only reason to raise the issue is if some of the materials on drones make it clear they’re being used — if not lethally — against entirely new kinds of targets: human traffickers and drug smugglers (though there have been a slew of stories that they were even used to hunt Chapo Guzman).
Ah well. It’s all moot now. OneKade alerts me that the reference has now been removed from the story.
Poof! All record the NSA and CIA used drones against drug traffickers gone!